A new article in the Guardian newspaper looks at the current state of the Iter nuclear fusion project, and reports that the international partnership of governments that is backing it is ready to invest $18 billion in order to get it on track to start producing useful clean energy power plants as soon as possible. The major push now at Iter is to build a massive tokamak magnetic reactor, three times as heavy as the Eiffel Tower, to contain the plasma needed to allow for the fusion reaction.
From the article:
Iter’s schedule is to create the first plasma in 2025, then start firing tiny 5mm frozen pellets of heavy hydrogen – deuterium and tritium – into the plasma and generating energy. Deuterium is easily refined from seawater and fuses with tritium, which is harvested from fission reactors but could be self-generated in Iter in future. The aim is to reach its maximum power output by 2035 and, if so, Iter will be the foundation of the first fusion power plants.
The optimistic goal is to have plants producing useful power, with a COP of around 10 for practical purposes by 2050. That seems a long way off, but in the eyes of the project leaders it’s not too long to wait given the potential long-term benefits to mankind.
Bernard Bigot, the director general of Iter tells the Guardian “The world needs to know if this technology is available or not. Fusion could help deliver the energy supplies of the world for a very long time, maybe forever . . . People have to realise, if we want a breakthrough [that could provide energy] for millions of years, 10 or 20 years is nothing.”
Many people are hoping that bringing LENR to market does not take as much time or money as fusion projects. Andrea Rossi says he hopes to introduce practical E-Cat products in 2018; me356 has stated he is focused on making domestic heaters (no timeframe has been announced yet) — but so far there are no guarantees for any of them.